Thursday, February 28, 2013

Target adds Geek Squad at more stores

Geek Squad employee Gayle Jessie repairs a controller board in the TV reclamation area at Geek Squad City in Hillview, Ky. Target has added Geek Squad's tech-support services at more of its stores, expanding a partnership with Best Buy that launched last year.

Target, which first added Geek Squad agents at 20 stores in Denver in October, expanded the test to 20 stores in Kansas City, Mo., last week based on "positive feedback."

"Future partnership plans will be determined following the results of these tests." Kathee Tesija, Target's vice president of merchandising and supply chain, said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.. . . more

Ramco-Gershenson, DDR among REITs with Greatest Exposure to Office Depot, OfficeMax

With everyone in the retail real estate industry expecting at least some store closings from the Office Depot/OfficeMax merger, SNL Financial has put together a list of REITs with the greatest exposure to the two retailers.

The Charlottesville, Va.-based research firm estimates that CommonWealth REIT and Equity One Inc. have the most exposure to Office Depot stores, with the retailer accounting for 1.7 percent and 1.4 percent of these REITs’ revenues respectively.. . . more

Kohl’s Q4 profit falls less than expected

Kohl's Corp. reported a lower fourth quarter profit on Thursday, hurt by markdowns during the holiday season.

Sales in the quarter ended Feb. 2 rose 5.4% to $6.34 billion. Same-store sales rose 1.9%.. . . more

Barnes & Noble swings to Q4 loss on sharp decline in Nook e-book sales

Barnes & Noble reported on Thursday a loss in the fiscal third quarter, hurt by a 26% decline in revenue for its Nook e-book readers.

Barnes & Noble reported on Thursday a loss in the fiscal third quarter, hurt by a 26% decline in revenue for its Nook e-book readers.. . . more

J.C. Penney sales plunge, much worse than expected

The digital business is weighing on Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest traditional U.S. bookseller.
The company posted on Thursday a loss in the fiscal third quarter, hurt by weak sales during the all-important holiday quarter for its Nook e-book readers as well as at its bookstores.
- See more at:
The digital business is weighing on Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest traditional U.S. bookseller.
The company posted on Thursday a loss in the fiscal third quarter, hurt by weak sales during the all-important holiday quarter for its Nook e-book readers as well as at its bookstores.
- See more at:
The digital business is weighing on Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest traditional U.S. bookseller.
The company posted on Thursday a loss in the fiscal third quarter, hurt by weak sales during the all-important holiday quarter for its Nook e-book readers as well as at its bookstores.
- See more at:
J.C. Penney Co Inc reported sales at stores open at least a year fell 31.7 percent in the fourth quarter, a much worse-than-expected plunge that might put Chief Executive Ron Johnson's future at the company at risk.

Johnson, who was brought in to revive the chain after running Apple Inc's retail business, acknowledged that he made a serious mistake in with pricing.. . . more

Sears 4Q loss narrows as co. reduces expenses

Sears posted a smaller loss in the fourth quarter as it reduced its inventory and expenses while sales at its namesake stores rose slightly.

Revenue at U.S. stores open at least a year dropped 1.6 percent in the quarter. Revenue at domestic Sears stores open at least a year edged up 0.8 percent, helped by strength in the clothing, home appliance and home categories. The figure dropped 3.7 percent for Kmart locations and fell 3.8 percent for Sears Canada.. . . more

AMC’s Chestnut Hill Theatre shuttered

AMC's Chestnut Hill Theater on Route 9 has closed.

It’s curtains for AMC’s Chestnut Hill Theatre.

The five-screen cinema on Route 9 in Newton, Mass. has closed and the marquee is empty.

AMC is being replaced by a competitor, Norwood-based National Amusements, which plans to open Cinema de Lux at the new Chestnut Hill Shopping Center near the same location. The six-screen complex is under construction at the former 120,000-square-foot Macy’s site. It is expected to open later this year along with a 250-seat Davio’s Northern Italian steakhouse.. . . more

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rite Aid tops drug chains in customer satisfaction

Several pharmacy retailers got top place in a recent consumer satisfaction survey.
A report released Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index ranked Rite Aid at the top among drug store chains, with a score of 77, a 3% improvement over last year. Walgreens gained 1%, for a score of 76, while CVS ranked 75, a 3% gain. The survey noted that CVS hit a low two years ago due to cost-cutting efforts.. . . more

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Home Depot vs. Lowe’s: Q4 comparison

On Tuesday, Lowe’s reported its fourth-quarter financial results. On Wednesday, it was Home Depot’s turn. How do the two home center giants compare?   
On the surface, Home Depot’s 13.9% sales gain stands in stark contrast to Lowe’s and its fourth-quarter sales decline of 5.0%. But Home Depot had an extra week in its fourth quarter calendar, while Lowe’s had one less week compared with the previous year. 
Here are the side-by-side key business metrics, adjusted to uniform 13-week periods.. . . more

Office Supplies Merger Likely to Present Challenge to Landlords

The announced merger between Office Depot and OfficeMax might help save the struggling office supplies retailers from extinction, but it will also lead to some headaches for landlords, market observers speculate.

In a published release about the deal, Office Depot’s management estimates that the merger will result in anywhere from $400 million to $600 million in annual cost synergies by the third year following the transaction’s close. A significant portion of those synergies will likely come from store closings in areas where the two chains compete with each other, as well as less productive stores that are nearing the ends of their lease terms, according to Liang Feng, an analyst who covers the office supplies sector for Chicago-based research firm Morningstar.. . . more

Barnes & Noble Stores Seen Topping Market Value

For Barnes & Noble Inc. founder Leonard Riggio to take his bookstores private, he may need to write a check for more than the entire company’s market value.

Riggio said yesterday that he will offer to buy the retail stores and website of the New York-based company he started more than 40 years ago, leaving shareholders with Barnes & Noble’s college book and Nook e-reader businesses. The retail chain alone is worth about $1 billion, according to the average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg, more than Barnes & Noble’s market capitalization yesterday of $902 million.. . . more

RadioShack loses money

RadioShack has lost $63.3 million in its fiscal fourth quarter — pressured by weaker mobile sales.

The struggling Fort Worth-based electronics chain said Tuesday it's looking to rebuild amid fierce online competition.. . . more

customer satisfaction with e-commerce continues to rise

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) annual E-Commerce Report, produced in partnership with customer experience analytics firm ForeSee, customer satisfaction with e-commerce websites continues to rise, gaining 1.2% to 81.1 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers are not conceding the Internet to online natives such as Amazon,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “They are investing heavily resources in providing a better experience for their customers, providing more evidence that competition is good for the consumer.”. . . more

Consumers still frugal; shopping less channels

Shoppers will reduce the number of channels they visit and remain intensely focused on value in 2013, according to the latest research from SymphonyIRI Group.

According to Symphony’s “2012 CPG Year in Review: Finding the New Normal,” consumers are still attempting to ease budgetary strains and are embracing a wide variety of money-saving strategies.. . . more

Macy’s CEO takes stand in Macy’s-Martha Stewart case

Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy’s, took the stand on Monday to testify in the trial of two Macy's lawsuits regarding the deal between J.C. Penney Co. and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.

The long-awaited trial began last Wednesday, in New York Supreme Court. The trial is about whether Macy’s has the exclusive right to sell Martha Stewart branded cookware, bedding and certain other products. . . . more

Overall branded basket 4% less expensive at Walmart than Target

With an overall branded basket 4% less expensive than Target’s, Walmart assumes the strongest overall lead in Kantar Retail’s semi-annual pricing study since the study began in 2009.
While strategic price discounts on key items continue to be a cornerstone of Target’s price competitiveness, rather than everyday low prices, Target’s overall basket has not been lower than Walmart’s since the January 2011 iteration of this study.. . . more

Monday, February 25, 2013

Grocery chains ramp up fuel rewards as gas prices hit record-highs

As gasoline prices surpass $4 a gallon in the Washington area, there may be one winner: Grocery stores with fuel-rewards programs.

Area retailers such as Safeway and Sam’s Club have been promoting sweeping discounts on gasoline in recent weeks. Wal-Mart has started a year-long initiative to give credit card holders 5 cents off each gallon of gas, while Giant has announced a contest that will give shoppers “free gas for a year.”. . . more

Supermarket deals could have ripple effect on A&P

Investment firms are shopping for deals in the supermarket aisles this year, and sales of regional grocery store chains — with one major deal announced last month and other chains accepting offers from buyers — could have a ripple effect on The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the Montvale-based parent of A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaum's and other stores.

The deal activity for grocery chains comes as merger-and-acquisition action heats up and private equity takes a keener interest in supermarket chains because of their desirable cash flow.. . . more

Casual Male changing name to Destination XL Group

Casual Male Retail Group will formally change its corporate name to Destination XL Group, Inc. to reflect the company's transition to its Destination XL format stores and e-commerce site. The name change will be effective as of Feb. 25.

  “The transformation to the Destination XL concept provides the company with an exciting opportunity for growth," said David Levin, president and CEO.. . . more

Nordstrom bullish on online and outlet business; to double Rack count over next four years

On the heels of a strong performance in 2012 that included a 7.3% same-store sales increase, Nordstrom Inc. is investing heavily in its future. Two big areas of investment: online and expansion of the Nordstrom Rack outlet division, both in the United States and in Canada.
Some 24 new Rack locations are planned for this year, with more than 30 expected in 2014. The company is looking to double its Rack portfolio, from its current 119 locations to more than 230 stores over the next four years. . . . more

$4M Foodie’s opens in South Boston

After nearly three years of planning and a $100,000 fire that caused a delay, Foodie’s Market celebrated its grand opening in South Boston on Saturday.

The long-vacant former home of the American Nut & Chocolate Co. on West Broadway has been replaced with the 8,500-square-foot store that features traditional and gourmet groceries, as well as prepared-foods and a butcher shop.. . . more

Lowe's 4Q net income tops expectations

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s Cos. said Monday that cleanup efforts after Superstorm Sandy and its new pricing strategy helped its fourth-quarter net income surpass expectations.

Its net income fell 11 percent from last year’s quarter, which included an extra week of revenue. Its earnings forecast for the year was below expectations but its revenue projection beat the current consensus.. . . more

Barnes & Noble chairman wants to buyout company's stores

Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio wants to buy the company's stores unit, and leave the company's Nook e-book business as a separate company.

Riggio, who disclosed his plans in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, did not disclose a price for his planned purchase.. . . more

Friday, February 22, 2013

JCPenney cutting 300 workers at headquarters

The pink slip massacre at JCPenney has come a week late — but it may be even bloodier than feared.

CEO Ron Johnson this week is cutting loose at least 300 workers at the retailer’s headquarters — a display of carnage that some employees had been dreading for weeks, calling it a “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” sources told The Post.. . . more

Shaw’s buyer picks new leader

Shaw’s and Star Market will get a new leader when Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons LLC finalizes its purchase of the chain next month.

Shane Sampson, most recently senior vice president of operations at Giant Food, has been named division president of the two West Bridgewater-based chains of 169 stores.. . . more

Harris Teeter draws interest from Dutch grocer

Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc., the Matthews-based grocery chain exploring a sale, has attracted interest from Royal Ahold NV, the Dutch owner of Stop & Shop stores, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Ahold has contacted JPMorgan Chase & Co., retained by Harris Teeter to evaluate options, and is seeking more information on the sale process, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. Ahold hasn’t made a formal bid, according to that person. ...more

Read more here: . . more

Rise of lifestyle centers reshaping retail

The region’s traditional malls are increasingly losing their dominant position in the retail scene to so-called “lifestyle” centers that typically offer a more upscale mix of stores and an easier-to-navigate layout.
Brokers point to the competition between Simon Property Group’s South Shore Plaza and relatively new centers in Hingham and Dedham as one of the latest examples of this trend in Boston.

 “Much of that South Shore business comes north on Route 95 though Sharon, Walpole, Foxborough and when you get to the junction of 95 and 93 you’re only an exit away from Legacy Place,” said Robert Sheehan, vice president of research for Burlington real estate firm Keypoint Partners.. . . more

Mihos bankruptcy filing outlines Christy's debts, few remaining assets

Former convenience store magnate Christy Mihos has filed documents in federal bankruptcy court alleging his now defunct business owes $2.6 million to creditors but controls less than $1 million in assets.

The filing comes as Mihos prepares to meet with creditors next week to discuss the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of his former business, which at one time included a dozen stores on Cape Cod. In bankruptcy documents filed Wednesday, Mihos claims that Christy's of Cape Cod owns two properties — one in Hyannis and another in West Yarmouth — worth a total of $947,000.. . . more

New owner beefs up Brighton’s Stockyard

A nod to Brighton’s cattle industry past has been rebranded as a classic American tavern.

After a seven-month hiatus, the 42-year-old Stockyard reopened last week after a refreshening under new owner Michael Conlon, who bought the landmark steakhouse on Market Street next to the Mass Pike in a $5 million deal last year.. . . more

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crunched consumers are cutting back

Smarting from smaller paychecks, consumers are tightening their budgets and looking for other ways to save money, according to a survey released Thursday.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they were cutting back to cope with tax changes this year -- including dining out less, limiting travel plans and skipping everyday indulgences, according to the National Retail Federation, which sponsored the survey.. . . more

Merging stores hold order for name, CEO

Framingham’s Staples Inc. is slated to get a new and larger rival pending approval of Office Depot’s $1.2 billion merger with OfficeMax, but key questions remain about the proposed marriage of the No. 2 and No. 3 office supply chains.

The combined company’s CEO, new name and corporate headquarters are yet to be determined.. . . more

Wendy’s embraces more modern look; 200 remodels planned for 2013

Wendy’s is getting a makeover. On Feb. 25, the company will unveil its new, more contemporary-looking logo in advertising, on product packaging, crew uniforms, new restaurant signage, menuboards and digital assets.  

The updated logo is in sync with the company’s new “Image Activation” restaurant environment, whose bold, sleek, ultra-modern look is designed to enhance the customer experience. Features include lounge seating with fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi and digital menuboards.. . . more

Wal-Mart tops Q4 profit estimate despite lackluster sales

Walmart overcame a meager 1% same stores sales increase at U.S. stores to deliver better than expected fourth quarter profits on Thursday.

The company said total sales increased 3.9% to $127.1 billion compared to $122.3 billion last year. Without the benefit of a favorable currency exchange situation, sales would have increased a lesser 3.7% to $126.8 billion. Full year sales increased by 5% to $466.1 billion compared to last year’s total of $443.8.. . . more

Joseph A. Bank inks deal in Financial District

Men’s fashion retailer Joseph A. Bank Clothiers has signed a 10-year lease for nearly 5,000 square feet at 70 Franklin St. in Boston’s Financial District.

Terms of lease were not disclosed. But commercial real estate brokers say retail rents in that section of Boston are in the low $40s per square foot.. . . more

Firehouse Subs planning to spread

With just two Massachusetts locations and another on the way, Firehouse Subs, the chain founded by two former fire fighting brothers, has set it sights on expanding in New England.

The 2,000-square-foot restaurants that feature hot and cold subs, soups, salads, brownies, and cookies, expects to open 85 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine over the next five years.. . . more

Dealing With the 900 Lb. Gorilla

It’s hard not to notice a growing trend toward retailers going into downsizing mode. The current inclination of larger brick-and-mortar retailers is to develop smaller prototypes; simply put, big stores are getting smaller. There are several reasons for this – higher unemployment, the economy in general, changing technology - but the biggest factor has a great deal to do with the large, menacing creature mentioned in the title – the looming, gargantuan presence known as e-commerce, about which more in a moment. This downsizing trend is especially pronounced in certain merchandise categories, from office supplies, electronics and appliances, to clothing and accessories and, perhaps most dramatically, books. . . more

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Office Depot agrees to buy OfficeMax in stock deal

Office Depot and OfficeMax are being collated.

The retailers said Wednesday they have agreed to combine in an all-stock deal worth about $1.2 billion that would transform the office-supply retail sector, helping the No. 2 and No. 3 chains compete against industry behemoth Staples. The first move toward consolidation in an industry that is bloated with stores reflects the changing retail landscape as ‘‘big box’’ stores have become outmoded and more people shop online.. . . more

2013 gasoline prices could hit record highs

Another 20 to 50 cents a gallon — a level that could propel the cost of gasoline, now $3.75 a gallon, to all-time highs, some experts say.. . . more

Debate Shaping Up Over Proposed MarketStreet Lynnfield Cinema

National Development expects to ask voters at Lynnfield town meeting to approve what is described as a speciality cinema for Phase 2 of the MarketStreet Lynnfield project.

Phase 2 would not open until late 2014 or early 2015, Ted Tye of National Development told Lynnfield Patch earlier this month. . . . more

Macy's and J.C. Penney head to court to battle over rights to sell Martha Stewart products

Two retail giants are going to war over the right to sell Martha Stewart's wares.

Macy's and J.C. Penney begin a court battle Wednesday over a $282.9 million deal Martha Stewart Living inked with J.C. Penney to hawk products Macy's claims it has the exclusive right to sell. The trial is expected to last several weeks and include allegations of deceit, greed and illicit backroom deals.. . . more

Does it make sense for Amazon to buy RadioShack?

There’s been some chatter about more possible retail mergers in light of the reported advanced talks between Office Depot and Office Max.

Who can give RadioShack instant Karma, coolness and a business plan? CNBC contributor Herb Greenberg says he’s rethinking the prospect of acquiring Best Buy which he and others have posed recently.. . . more

GNC reports strong Q4; to open 180 stores in U.S. in 2013

GNC Holdings is bullish on expansion. Reporting impressive results for the fourth quarter, the retailer plans to open approximately 150 net new U.S. stores in 2013, along with 30 net new domestic franchise locations, and 175-200 net new international franchise locations. It also will open 30 net new GNC-Rite Aid store-within-a-store locations.

GNC reported consolidated revenue of $565.0 million, an increase of 10.9% over consolidated revenue of $509.6 million in the previous year.  Same store sales increased 7.1% in domestic company-owned stores (including sales), representing the company's 30th consecutive quarter of positive same store sales growth.. . . more

Topshop eyes 10 more U.S. locations

Britain’s Topshop is planning on increasing its U.S. presence. The fashion chain plans to open 10 additional stores in the United Stores over the next two years, according to the New York Daily News.
There are currently four U.S. Topshop stores, with the most recent being a flagship at The Grove in Los Angeles. . . . more

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Best Buy extends price-match guarantee

Electronics giant Best Buy is extending its price-match guarantee in an effort to stop the practice of "showrooming," where customers check out products in its stores before purchasing them online.

The chain says it will now match advertised prices from brick-and-mortar rivals as well as 19 major online competitors, such as Amazon, starting March 3. The price guarantees will be year round and apply to virtually all items. Previously, the company's price-match policy was limited to holiday shopping periods and featured items.. . . more

Has Whole Foods Dropped Its Prices Too Low?

Seeking to shed its "Whole Paycheck" reputation, Whole Foods over the last few years has been offering more discounts, brought in less-expensive products, and held prices in a bid to appeal to a broader range of consumers. But Wall Street is wondering whether Whole Foods has already lowered prices enough.

In its 2012 annual report, Whole Foods attributed much of its success in the past few years — including grocery market share gains and 11 consecutive quarters of comp growth of 7.8 percent of better — to "visible value efforts which have positively impacted our price image.". . . more

Will Google Retail Suck as Bad as Microsoft Stores?

Google not only plans to open brick-and-mortar retail stores this year, it's reportedly already building them.

So what does it mean? What's the potential impact?

First, it could mean better-focused, in-the-flesh competition for Apple that gets Steve Ballmer fired at Microsoft once and for all. A well-done Google retail presence could elevate the excitement level in tech several notches this year.. . . more

Institutional Investors Likely to Increase Allocations to Retail Real Estate in 2013

After several years of turning a skeptical eye on retail properties, risk-wary institutional investors are beginning to favor retail assets more and more. Reassured by improving sector fundamentals and hungry for healthy yields, pension funds, private equity firms, life companies and foreign buyers all seem ready to place more capital into shopping centers and malls in 2013.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ recent acquisition of a Kansas City outlet center, which is among the first few real estate investments the private equity giant has completed, is only one example of the trend.. . . more

Whole Foods Expands in the Northeast

Whole Foods Market signed a lease with Federal Realty Investment Trust for a 47,000-sq.-ft. store at Ellisburg Circle Shopping Center in Cherry Hill, N.J. The retailer plans to open its new location in 2014.

In another transaction, Whole Foods Market signed a lease for a store at Westford Valley Marketplace in Westford, Mass. Market Basket currently occupies the property. Whole Foods plans to open its new location in 2016.

Don Mace, of KeyPoint Partners LLC, negotiated this transaction.. . . more

A battle royale

Martha Stewart always insists on the finest — and this time she’s got JCPenney to foot the bill.

The domestic diva is demanding that extravagant materials be used for her new line of home products at Penney, despite the struggling department store’s downmarket image and the dwindling cash on its balance sheet, sources told The Post.. . . more

OfficeMax, Office Depot shares soar amid merger report

Shares in Naperville-based OfficeMax Inc. soared 14 percent Tuesday morning on a report it is in advanced merger talks with Office Depot Inc.

And Office Depot shares were up 25 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported the two companies were in advanced discussions, citing person familiar with the negotiations, with a deal possible as early as this week.. . . more

Samuels & Associates pitches new project near Fenway Park

Samuels & Associates has proposed a $175 million apartment tower for the Fenway. 

Samuels filed plans with the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Friday for a $175 million development that will include 320 apartments, including a mix of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with rents ranging from $2,500 to $4,000. Designed by Arquitectonica, a Miami-based architect, the building includes a 33,000-square-foot, two-story retail base with and residential above.

Samuels is already underway with a $315 million mixed-use development on the Boylston Street block between Yawkey Way and Kilmarnock Street. Goodyear Tire and the Fenway Car Wash have been razed for Boylston West. The 700,000-square-foot development will include 300 apartments, 230,000 square feet of on-spec office space and 165,000 square feet of retail. A Target store is slated for the site and a new street will connect Boylston Street to Van Ness and Brookline Avenue.. . . more

Friday, February 15, 2013

Staples to sell Apple products? Execs' tweet says, oh yes

Posts to Twitter by Staples Inc. executives indicate Apple Inc. products may begin to be sold at the company's U.S. stores soon.

According to Apple Insider, Staples' Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources Regis Mulot indicated Apple products are coming soon to the store in a tweet. "After Canada, #Apple products are coming to #Staples in US. Great news!" . . . more